Including the names of all "necessary parties" in an action is critical

Including the names of all "necessary parties" in an action is critical Matter of Wheeler, CEd Decision 14,581 This ruling by the Commissioner of Education demonstrates the importance of naming all of the necessary parties in a proceeding before the Commissioner. An elementary school principal announced that she was going to retire. Adirondack Central School Superintendent Marjorie Kelly transferred the principal then serving at another elementary school, Forestport, to fill the resulting vacancy. Kelly next appointed Ann Bush, a speech teacher, as principal at Forestport. Bush was simultaneously assigned to be the speech teacher, part-time, at Forestport. Richard Wheeler, President of the Adirondack Central School Administrators' Association, objected to Bush's appointment as a principal with part-time teaching responsibilities rather than as a full-time principal. Wheeler's argument: the district created a new position of "Teaching Principal" at Forestport when it appointed Bush, thereby violating Section 100.2(a) of the Commissioner's regulations [8 NYCRR 100.2(a)].* The Commissioner said he had to dismiss the appeal because Wheeler failed "to join a necessary party" — Ann Bush. The Commissioner pointed out that a party whose rights would be adversely affected if the appeal was sustained must be clearly named as a respondent in the caption of the petition and "served with a copy of the notice of petition and petition, to inform the person that he or she should respond to the petition and enter a defense." Significantly, the Commissioner rejected the Association's contention that Bush was a party to the appeal because she was a member of the Association. Were Wheeler to prevail in his appeal, said the Commissioner, Bush's employment as principal at Forestport would "clearly be affected." Thus Bush is a necessary party to the proceeding and the failure to name her constituted a fatal procedural error. * 4 NYCRR 100.2 "requires a board of education to employ and assign a full-time principal to each school under its supervision" unless the Commissioner approves a "variance."

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